Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Hiniduma Update

Apologies for the update delay.
Since arriving Sunday evening back at our base in Moratuwa, we've had a busy few days visiting Adara Savana, the school for differently-abled, sorting glasses for our next clinics, and a couple outside events. (Plus trying to sleep just a bit...and enjoying some tasty "short eats", as they call certain traditional snack foods prepared by local vendors.)

To catch up, I'll focus this post on our last eye clinic.

After resigning ourselves to not being able to travel to Sunday's planned location due to flood danger, we were blessed with clear skies, and were able to join with the local church in Hiniduma for Sunday morning service.

Immediately following the service, we set up the clinic and got to work with exams and dispensing eyeglasses. The pastor, his mother, and sister graciously opened their home near the church to host the afternoon's clinic.

To reiterate, this home was flooded up to the roof just in May 2017.
It's a bit hard to tell from this next picture, but the still-high river level is currently 15-20 feet down the fairly steep riverbank behind their home. The floodwaters in May came up so quickly that some - including the pastor's family - had to be rescued from their rooftops, but we heard testimonies of thankfulness that they were able to get to safety, even though many homes required extensive repair.
We were inspired by the resourcefulness and lack of self-pity in the midst of heart-breaking and extremely difficult scenarios.

One gentlemen attending the clinic shared that he needed glasses because his were lost in the chaos of the flood.

This little grandma, who is 76 years old, still has to support herself through the backbreaking work as a tea picker on a local estate. It has become very hard for her to even see the select leaves she must pluck. Her prescription ended up being a Coke-bottle-bottom -6.00 strength - the strongest glasses we had with us.

And why, you may ask, is this gentleman threading a needle? He works as an umbrella repairman, and so this is the perfect practical double-check of his diagnosed prescription.

In 2 hours and 40 minutes, 98 people had their eyes examined, and 83 received free eyeglasses, thanks to the generosity of many of you reading this. Thank you so much for being a vital part of this exciting journey in Sri Lanka.

Tomorrow we drive about 6 hours northeast to Trincomalee, where we will hold clinics in nearby settlements on Friday and Saturday. I've never been to this area, and am looking forward to seeing new regions of this beautiful country and meeting more of its gracious people. Stay tuned!
- Cyndy

Saturday, October 14, 2017

On To Hiniduma

The rain kept pounding down  intermittently during Saturday's eye clinic in Udugama, but paused for our walk from and back to the car! 
The van couldn't traverse the last little bit so we got in a nice little hike down to the meeting hall. 

In 3.5 hours, we set up (& later packed up) 2 exam stations - one each for distance and near-sighted testing - and a dispensary for diagnosed strengths of glasses, examined the eyes of 53 people, and gave out 38 pairs of eyeglasses.

With the continuing rains, our Sunday plans were jeopardized, from a safety standpoint. Since Sunday's location was just further up the main road another 15 km, we booked it up there to say hello to the pastor and see the mission house and church location.
Rain persisted the entire drive up and back, and the water level in the river kept rising, with water across the road in a couple places. (Fear not - it wasn't over the tiny tyres on the van.)
In comparison to the murky high water pictured, this river is normally more of a trickling flow. 

The turquoise mission house pictured has a second story on the right side. This is the house I mentioned yesterday that flooded in May up to the second story roof, where the family was rescued. 

Just before the flood in May 2017, Buddhist leadership organized opposition to this church in Hiniduma being built. In response to the flood, the church pastors and people offered much needed aid to others in the community, and that was the end of that round of opposition. 

Many homes along the way had also been  flooded out at the same time. Some buildings and roads are still undergoing repair. This station for the #10 bus route was flooded to right below the roofline. Since May, it has been repaired and repainted. 

BUT today, prayers were answered with clear skies, both at our hotel in Hikkaduwa and up in the hills at Hiniduma. 

Even one of the little local orphan dogs is enjoying the clear view.

Breakfast was on time & delicious, and we are on our way with high expectations for both the morning service and afternoon eye clinic. 

Then we head back to our main base in Moratuwa, to prepare for next week's clinics in Trincomalee.

Friday, October 13, 2017

Off To Our First Clinic In Udugama

Our plans today to depart at 7:30 AM to our first eye clinic in Udugama were slightly delayed - on our side, by the hotel kitchen's laid back interpretation of time (breakfast at 7:00 AM became the initial fruit plate arriving at 7:30...) On the destination side, heavy rain and subsequent flood warnings required our key contact waiting in Udugama to drive back home and transfer his family to safety and move furniture up to their second story rooms. They live further away from the clinic destination, down near the river. When severe floods occurred in Sri Lanka this past May, their home quickly was under water past the second story and they were rescued off the roof.

As of our departure time of 8:35 AM, we were assured that the area we are headed to is safe, being at a higher elevation in low-grown tea country. If rain continues at the current rate, plans may not go as scheduled for today's second eye clinic and tomorrow's scheduled church meeting and eye clinic, due to safety warnings of potential mudslides and also because the people who would come to the clinics would be occupied with moving to higher ground.

BUT there is a bit of sunshine peaking out, so we wait to see what God has in store either way. 

Side Note: Low country tea is different from high country tea, which is perceived as a finer quality product. I noticed right away that the terraces are not as steeply vertical nor the plants as strictly pruned as on the high country estates we visited near Nuwara Eliya in 2016.

We also drove through palm oil and rubber tree estates - love seeing the real world source of a common item off ingredient lists. Kind of like putting a face to a name.

Safe Travels

Apologies for the delay in postings of our travel progress.
 We had some technical glitches, but I think we're back in business. 

To catch up:
We arrived safely at our base in Moratuwa, Sri Lanka on Thursday, 12 October 2017,
after roughly  35 hours en route, 
with airport stops along the way in:

Tokyo, Japan

Departure line, more than halfway boarded!

Bangkok, Thailand

Colombo, Sri Lanka

After taking it easy the rest of Thursday, we then set off down the road Friday morning towards our first clinic base. But more on that tomorrow - mid-morning Montana time is well  past my bedtime 11.5 hours ahead in Sri Lanka!

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Leaving North America

Tuesday morning, 0-Dark-30 (aka 2:50 AM PT): Monica The Saint drives us to Las Vegas International Airport.

5:50 AM PT: Bye bye, Vegas!

7:25 AM PT: Hello, San Francisco!

(& all this before Starbucks was even open to brew up the morning's first coffee!)

11:50 AM PT: Aaaand bye bye, San Francisco - we're off to Tokyo, and so it has begun!!

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Sri Lanka Trip Schedule

The departure date for our next Sri Lankan mission is almost here!  Many of you have asked for our itinerary so you could follow us and pray.

Our home base is Moratuwa - just south of the Capital City of Colombo.  From there we venture out each weekend on a different mission, driving up to seven hours across this beautiful island nation.

While in Moratuwa, we will be ministering at the Adara Sevana School for the differently-abled, and at the Wednesday evening Healing services.

Journey along with us on this exciting itinerary - one month in Sri Lanka:

October 10 - 12: Fly from  Las Vegas through Bangkok, Thailand to Colombo, Sri Lanka
            (Includes overnight in the Bangkok Airport)

1st Weekend Mission: October 12- 15: Eye Clinics and Church service in Hikkaduwa

October 17:  Ministry at Adara Sevena School

October 18:  Church Healing Service in Moratuwa

2nd Weekend Mission: October 19 - 22:  Eye Clinics and Church Service in Trincomalee

October 24:  Cyndy and Kim fly back home (Gary & Pat at Adara Sevana School)

October 25:  Church Healing Service in Moratuwa

3rd Weekend Mission: October 26 - 29: Eye Clinics and Church Service in Buttala

October 31: Ministry at Adara Sevena School

Nov. 1: Church Healing Service in Moratuwa

4th Weekend Mission: Nov. 2 - 5: Eye Clinics and Church Service in Jaffna

Nov. 7 - 9: Pat and Gary journey home through Bangkok, Thailand

As you can see our schedule is full and we will be busy.  We covet your prayers for this trip as many places we will be going to are in persecuted areas.
                                                             Gary & Pat and the Sri Lankan Mission Team

Sunday, September 10, 2017

Sri Lanka Countdown!

It seems it was only last week that Pat and I were  making  arrangements to travel to Montana.
Now we find ourselves just 4 weeks away from heading to Sri Lanka for a month!

Airline tickets have been purchased,  eyeglasses sorted and packed, visas obtained and living arrangements secured.  Our ministry itinerary has been finalized; which means nothing when we get overseas, since plans change constantly.

The entire team is excited to see what the Lord will do on this trip. The US team includes:
Cyndy Hull - Pat's sister who ministered with us in Sri Lanka Feb 2016; and Kimberly Cline - a friend from Meadows Fellowship, our home church here in Las Vegas.

Thank you for being a part of this trip!   Blessings, Gary

Sharing Jesus' Love

Delicious Local Food
Sri Lanka - Resplendent Land